Wigwam Escape [Review]

A different kind of puzzle hunt.

Location:  Washington, Connecticut

Date Played: January 20, 2020

Team size: 3-7; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player ($20 per student); ticket price includes half off museum admission ticket

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Wigwam Escape was a hidden gem.

In-game: A beautiful authentic wigwam in the middle of the escape room.

Located within a Native American history museum in the wilds of Connecticut, this was probably the most remote game that we’ve ever played. (Put your directions into your GPS in advance; there’s no cell service near the venue.)

There are a lot of things to love at Wigwam Escape. Most notably, the game’s creators put an emphasis on learning through play. Everything in this game had a purpose and intent behind it… and that intent was not always “to have fun” (although we had plenty of it). There were some tedious moments in this game, but they served a larger purpose.

Additionally, there were many novel interactions in Wigwam Escape. We get excited when a game has one thing that we’ve never seen done before. Wigwam Escape had so many creative interactions.

It was not a perfect game. We wished for more variety in puzzle types, and for more audio/ visual feedback from some of the game’s more unusual interactions to coax us along. That said, overall, we smile just thinking about this experience.

If you’re in the region, do yourself a favor and drive back to 1518. Escape rooms were totally different back then.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • History buffs
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Wigwam Escape was unique
  • The experience was driven by history and narrative
  • Tangible challenges that reflected the narrative
  • A beautiful setting

Story

It was 1518 in the woodlands of Connecticut. Our Native American tribe had received a request for medical assistance from the fishing village of Metachiwon. We had to hunt, gather, and prepare for the 7-mile journey.

In-game: A view through the entry way of a wigwam. There is a fire burning inside of it.

Setting

Wigwam Escape had a beautiful, authentic set. The centerpiece was the wigwam. The rest of the gamespace represented different areas of its surroundings: village, garden, stream, etc.

The walls were murals that were painstakingly detailed.

Our favorite set detail was the “game clock” as a day/ night cycle. We had a single day in which to get ready for our journey. We woke up before sunrise and went about our preparations.

In-game: A guarden with corn, sunflowers, and other veggies growing.

Gameplay

Wigwam Escape was an unusual, educational escape room.

In order to solve the puzzles, we needed to think about how people lived off the land that is now Connecticut back in 1518.

Approached with situational thinking, it had a moderate level of difficulty. It can’t be approached as a classic puzzle game.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, thinking practically, and solving puzzles.

In-game: A stream running through the woods.

Analysis

➕ At Wigwam Escape we learned about how people lived in 1518 through play. It was fun with educational material peppered in.

➕ The situation puzzling was well defined. We had to complete 3 clear objectives in order to help the fishing village. These were contextualized for us. We were already learning. It was up to us to use our surroundings to accomplish the set objectives. This was fair, attainable, interesting, and exciting.

In-game: closeup of corn growing with beside a sunflower.

➕ The set was great, with the centerpiece being an actual wigwam. The walls were beautiful, detailed murals. The set pieces looked fantastic. As the light changed, we appreciated it even more.

➖ Some triggers were difficult to notice. There was opportunity for Wigwam Escape to add sound effects that triggered with our actions – in addition to the ambient soundtrack – to make the space come alive that much more.

➕/❓ With the sun as our gameclock, we could feel the passing of time in a genuine way. It added a layer of complexity to the gameplay too, since certain solves would be easier at different times of day. That said, it’s not an exact timekeeping system. While the imprecise system made sense, we can see how this would frustrate some players.

In-game: A view of the sunrise beyond a corn garden.

➕ There weren’t overt anachronisms such as padlocks or written language. It was a search-heavy game, which made sense given that we were a hunter-gatherer society.

➖ We had to complete two instances of what was essentially the same puzzle. If nobody on your team is good at this type of puzzle – and it’s the type of thing that comes more naturally to some – it could sink your game entirely. Take hints if you need them.

In one instance, this puzzle type felt like a logical puzzle-interpretation of the task at hand. It could also be solved in a way that allowed for teamwork.

In the second instance, however, we couldn’t see how it made sense. Given how it was set up this time, only one person could work on it at a time. Additionally, we encountered some misleading cluing.

➕ We could tell that Wigwam Escape went to great lengths to avoid red herrings. When we encountered an item we needed, there was no ambiguity.

➖ One puzzle needed additional feedback. It was necessarily frustrating (yes, you read that correctly)… and we rolled with that because it really did make sense. However, Wigwam Escape could have sparked our excitement as we worked to complete it.

➕ In an early sequence, Wigwam Escape reimagined and reinvigorated a tired escape room trope to force us to appreciate the challenges of 1518. It was brilliant. It was also fun and rewarding.

➕ We encountered at least three significant design elements that we had never seen before in an escape room. There was a ton of innovation crammed into Wigwam Escape.

In-game: a wooden backpack with slots for the objective items.

Tips For Visiting

  • Wigwam Escape is located at The Institute for American Indian Studies.
  • Put the address in your GPS before you start driving. You’ll be winding through small roads to get to the museum and there is no cell service in the area.
  • There is a bit of kneeling and crawling required in some sections of the game. At least 2 teammates should be comfortable with this.

Book your hour with Wigwam Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Wigwam Escape comped our tickets for this game.

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